Of course the spaldeen (especially the much-beloved #4, although #2 was also good) was always better than the pinky, although that pinky could really fly when hit with a bat! Most of you can probably relate, but I wish I could explain to my friends here in the Midwest what it was like growing up on E. 15th St. near Kings Highway in the ’70s. Our street was full of kids and we played all the time: johnny on the pony, stoopball, stickball, hockey on roller skates, scully, red rover, i declare war (losers always “went under the moon”), wiffle ball, ringaleavio. And the games in the schoolyards, like handball, off the wall, paddleball. There’s got to be a million spaldeens on the roof at PS 199 where I went and all the other schools, too. It was like a soap opera, too.
I played Johhny on the Pony during the early 80’s in Greenpoint/Williamsgurg Brooklyn. Also played Chinesse handball, Boxball, Stoopball, etc; but those are other great stories. Most memorible JOP story is when we actually convinced the girls that hung out with us in a schoolyard over on Havermyer st. to play JOP with us guys!!! Well needless to say, those of you who’ve played the game know the position you take being on the pony. That was the first time I put my arms around Lisa Ninziata’s waist. Wow, I was in heaven… pure bliss… until I turned my head toward the other team, just in time to catch a glimse of her then boyfriend Bobby’s sneaker as it slammed me on the side of the head, almost ripping my ear off. Well, this being perfectly leagal in JOP; I had to wait till my teams turn for retaliation. Later I would throw mu body, with full force at Bobby with elbows leading the way. And, in the end we would laugh ourselves to tears as Anthony’s radio played “The Piano Man”. What days those were… my best memories.
I grew up in Southwest Philly. We played box ball, wire ball, stick ball, step ball, etc. We also played Kick the Can, which was like Jailbreak. Somebody was “it”. Everyone else had to hide. The person who was it had a can and a jail. They had to identify the person that they saw hiding, grab the can and bang it on the street saying 1-2-3 I see Joe hiding behind Mr. Doyle’s car. If that was right, the person would go in the jail. The rest of the people had to try to sneak up the street to kick the can to free anyone in jail and hide before the person who was “it” saw you. It could take awhile before you caught everyone if you were it. What a thrill to kick the can and set everyone free. You were a hero for a minute. I also remember Hide the Belt and Buck Buck and Break the Golden Gate. I wish that I had a whole pimple ball. I have one half ball left.
In the late 1960s there used to be a massive day long Johnny-on-the-Pony fest at the bottom of the stairs next to Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. It was a pick up game with several ponies lined up next to one another, probably 100 players or more at a time on any given Saturday. Fans would be lined up along the wall at the top of the stairs looking down at the action and cheering whenever the pony filled with riders and one more runner came leaping aboard. It was truly an authentic New York experience. At 125 pounds, I was an observer at these “semi-pro” games, but enjoyed playing in school. No one seemed to notice or care that so many of our activities were perilous. We continued to shoot half paper clips at each other with rubber band launchers after Mario gained a glass eye. Nowadays you can’t even find a set of metal monkey bars set on a rough concrete pad. Man those hurt. …
Rochester, N.Y. We called the game Saddle the Donkey. The pillar would call the move as the jumper leaped. Shift left or right or break. The object of breaking was to let the jumper land on the ground. This was usually done to some hotshot type.Some times we would get the Donkey swaying left right or up down. The jumpers’ big move was to do the quick load with every one coming on in close succession. Sometimes we would have as many as ten on a side. Several years there were city wide competion. Charles-Oscar …
Seeing all the postings bring back many memories. As a matter of fact every game I played as a kid is mentioned on this Website. Great! My fondest memories of Johnny on the Pony was during high school. We always played before classes begun and having picked our teams, there was always some guys waiting for the right moment to sneak in and take a shot. It was usually some big character trying to get his jollies off by piling on and breaking the “ponies” back. We usually had to line up again because no one saw the guy jumping on. I also remember being kicked in the head a few times by some wild cowboy type who came charging with arms and legs flailing…Late 1960s were some great and heady times.
I noticed that in many of the posts here referring to “Buck-Buck”, the player that stood against the wall was called the “pillar”. I’m an old south brooklyn boy and I played buck-buck regularly as a kid and we called the guy against the wall the “pillow” for what I thought was an obvious reason. If that guy wasn’t standing there it would have been murder for the first guy bent over when the other team jumped on their back. The force would push his head against the wall darn near breaking his neck. With a “pillow” there, he softened the crunch and there was less chance of getting hurt. That being said….”anyone wanna choose up sides and play?”
Growing up on the same Bronx block for 21 years, we called the game “slugs” although i do recall the other names (ace, king, queen and chinese handball). It was one of the most popular games on the block. As a kid, I’d watch the older guys play with awe and once I started playing, i loved it. Expecially after learning to “cut” the ball, which would fool the hell out of an opponent, unless he had a nastier cut than you. Then there were all the other “rules” we’d throw in like “waterfalls”, “baby waterfalls”, “hindus”, etc. I’m just mad that I can’t remember what all of these mean or how they were used in the game! I remember how the whole neighborhood would get into the game and we’d play for hours, with sometimes 8-10 players at a time. Then it was on to skelsies, johnny on the pony, or ringolevio. Ah, the good ole days.
I played Johnny on a Pony at PS 99 in B’klyn in the early 50’s. I was last one time & I was falling & grabbed on to the girl in front of me, we both fell backwards & she actually knocked me out!! We played boys & girls together….